An Intervew with Amir Mobed
Amir Mobed is a well-known artist. Everybody remembers the white mushrooms he installed in the park-museum of contemporary arts for the New Art exhibition in Fall of 2001. He participated in several exhibitions and held some later. His previous works and his recent exhibitions indicate the fact that this 32 year-old artist must be considered as a significant one.
Like that of a cell, there is an idea of reproduction in your works; such as the mushrooms and the angels. Where does this reproduction come from?
I have been professionally working for ten years. I was very much into figures before attending the university. After working for some time, I decided to work on the formalistic idea which turned out to such forms. I have been working on the sculptures since the last one on the Biennale. I stopped building forms afterwards and I realized it is not about building things, and I need to gain experience in other different fields. I have been working on the tiling motifs within the past seven, eight years while I was not aware of the fact that my works have been the forms and ideas I have been reproducing with different materials in different works. I tried to figure the origin of this multiplicity which I believe dates back to the ceramic workshop in Shahroud with Mahdi Qanbeigi. We used molds working with ceramics. They were the motifs with the same moulds. I used to draw delicate forms on the raw ceramics. They were well-arranged geometric forms all in one place and I was tempted to disorganize them and turn them into forms I was interested in. Yet they were workshop products. I made my own ceramic and porcelain sculptures after I finished my job. I showed them to Mahdi and Monir Qanbeigi and they patiently discussed my works. Yet I know they came from within. I used my own organic forms for multiplication before the New Art exhibition II, in the form of maquettes or little works because I was not financially capable of holding such an exhibition in larger scales. The New art exhibition II fortunately provided a chance for me to eventually experience the larger forms.
Why do you choose organic objects? Do you have any interests in nature?
It guess I do. I lived in the nature and grew up off the capital. I have always loved extra-ordinary forms. The unusual forms were eye-catching for me rather than others when we were out in the jungle or the dessert. As for this exhibition, I chose the forms (un)fortunately because I did not receive the sponsorship I was expecting. Not that I do not like the form but the thing is, I have been developing this idea for two months and all of a sudden I had to look for something new within the past four, five days because the poster was published and I should have made it anyway.
What was the first idea?
Wait for me to perform! The primary material was soil. The soil which was supposed to be moulded. And all these trashes, the consumed objects from my personal life I had gathered for two months, well they weren’t supposed to be like this, yet they turned out to be as it is, due to financial and time restrictions.
Do the consuming objects like glue and the tomato paste suggest consumption?
No it’s not about that. There is consumption, but not consumerism. We do consume but we are not consumerists. We haven’t reached that level yet. Our society has not become like that of the Americans. Because the consumption culture is not common in Iran due to our culture cultural backgrounds and the fact that we do not let ourselves consume. We mostly share things. My concern was to show the objects I was living with for six months, many of which could not be brought in here. The objects could also include food. They could be anything. How can this consumption be useful for me and the society? What is remained (from me) is wastes and trashes. Most of these trashes would be recycled or eliminated. Each house, office, studio, etc has a collection of trashes. These trashes would end up in the trash can and this process ends, and another begins when the trashes are on the streets. The growing wheat is about this. This form which occupies a specific space, and are called disposables, include objects I have consumed in disposable plates. I am now recently working on contradiction.
The name of the exhibition is “The Root of the Soil”, so the recycled objects grow from the soil?
As I said, it is not what I had in mind but I had to do it anyway to meet the exhibition. There have been alterations and that is why the work turned out to be like this. Still, I am totally for, and content with it. I don’t approve of the irrelevant name for the exhibition. Things might not have had changed if there was a sponsor. Disregarding the title, the poster suits the content and so I support the poster too.
What happen to the current title then?
I have not thought about that. I do not go over the work after the exhibition. It has always been like this. I try to review the work after a while. Most of the repeated motifs are repeated in my work of you take a closer look, but they are all different in content and form. Because when the work is finished, it is also finished for me and so I do not review it. I was thinking of the exhibition itself and I did not think about the title.
Why is your picture on the poster?
It was the graphic designer’s idea, not mine. One has to trust a professional graphic designer like Farhad Fozouni. The previous poster was also designed by Mahmoud Bakhshi. He took some photos of me and just designed the poster.
You work on your face therefore on these posters and then on the self-portraits. Are you repeating yourself or a part in you?
Yes. Farhad Fozouni and I had a little chat before the exhibition. It has been a year that I am working on myself. This has different aspects. Me through other’s eyes and me through my own eyes. I am analysing myself. The senses in me and in my work. The flaws in me. I am trying to reach a purification. It is very hard to think about all you have done in your life so far. When you think about the reflection of your work, whether or not you are satisfied with yourself, and why? All are in your behaviour with your friends and close ones. And how are you as a person? It is hard to explain. And I am now at this stage, working on this matter. I have started working on my own body and now my art is being applied on my body. Many of my works cannot be exhibited so that everybody could visit. I am doing this to reach a self-recognition. I am after an ideal that I might or might not achieve. I would want to reach a conclusion, yet it might not be what I want. Because even if you purify yourself, the ones around you would interfere. Such contradiction bothers you. I do not know until when I can continue this struggle within. They might have decided to choose my photo for the poster because I talked to them.
Is there a social concern about “for the bill” in here?
Yes. An artist cannot live without concerns. Artists are utilised with sensors that could be affected by political, social or personal circumstances. This is how the universal art is today. What happens in your house, your town and your country or at other countries? One must be alert. Such things cannot be discussed or published anywhere. What happens in our society are worked on, yet they are not presentable. Many are sent to other places. Some (artists) are taking advantage of this situation. Because Europeans do not know much about Iran, they might misunderstand our situation when they hear we cannot hold exhibitions and they are hard on us, and they do not know how much it is true. I don’t know if such works are permanently or temporarily done yet I think it is not that important.
Where did you get the idea for this work?
I cannot discuss this exhibition much. You think about something and then you try to imagine how would it appear on the scene and consider each parts and the forms. Then you think about the details of the main concept. Then you face the work and realise that the space has turned into 20 meters except for 200 meters! Not to mention the worst part which was the financial issues. Another issue is about the inability to sell such works to a collector. That leaves the artist without any sponsors and supporters. I have spent 21000 dollars although the gallery gave me 6000. Such matters affect the way of thinking, working and the exhibiting. Because I didn’t receive the amount I expected and therefore had no choice to pick this material and that is how much concept is affected. I have been working about two or three months for this exhibition.